Learning from the Angels

shepherds angels (1)

The angels appeared to the shepherds with a long-awaited, earth-shattering, can-it-really-be-true? message: “A Savior has been born to you.” As amazing as this announcement was, a gentle progression preceded their proclamation. Read it for yourself in Luke 2: 8-15.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

The angel arrived on the hillside with an astounding announcement, but before that, he calmed the shepherds’ fears. His first words were, “Do not be afraid.” The angel had the shepherds’ attention but needed to prepare the men to hear the message. It makes me wonder how often fear stands in the way of receiving—in the physical world and in the spiritual world.

The angel still didn’t make his announcement; he stated his purpose, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” There was urgency to the angel’s message, but the heavenly being didn’t rush. His shepherd audience needed further preparation—they were going to hear good news, a message of joy for them and the entire world.

Finally, the announcement was made: “A Savior has been born to you.” The angel proclaimed the history-changing, life-altering, sin-solving message of hope. The proclamation was simple and straightforward, without explanation of prophecy or theology.

The angel concluded with details, which were also a teaser. “You will find a baby…lying in a manger.” He didn’t tell the shepherds what to do, but enticed them to discover the truth for themselves. Then a host of angels appeared and burst into praise, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

With little information and the inspiration of the angels’ song resounding in their hearts, the shepherds were compelled to act.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Isn’t that exactly how God is with us? He calms our fears so we’ll be in a position to listen. He gentles our spirit before speaking His message. He tells us truth, plainly and simply, with information enough to inspire us to go and see for ourselves.

And the angels sing.

Photo compliments of endoftheage.blogspot.com

For Us: A Child, A Kingdom, Peace

stockvault-mont-saint-michel138300I love reading Isaiah 9:6-7b during Advent, but I felt sad that familiarity can rob such a beautiful passage of its magnificence. I determined to spend time meditating on the words and share the blessings of that quiet time with you.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase [greatness] of his government and peace
there will be no end.

Isaiah does not say the child is born to a virgin–isn’t that curious? Rather, he writes that a child is born to us. He is given to us. This birth was not about Mary, it was about us. It’s only about Mary insomuch as she’s one of us. He was born for the sake and salvation of humanity.

The child who was to be born would carry the government, the ruler-ship of the world, on His shoulders. When we think of carrying a burden on our shoulders, we think of a weight, heaviness. But it would not be a burden for Him, but a high calling and position of power and majesty. He is ruler of a Kingdom and we are invited into its citizenship. As ruler He is:

Counselor, God, Father, Prince—Holy Spirit, Father, Son. This is familiar to us, as are the descriptive words Isaiah uses, but take a moment to meditate on those words:

  • Wonderful—full of wonder; magnificent, superb, breathtaking, amazing, astonishing, fantastic, brilliant, great—we will never grasp the fullness of His wonder. Rather than be satisfied at revelations of His wonder, we will only long for more revelations.
  • Mighty—powerful, strong, potent, great, grand–nothing is beyond His ability, outside His power, too great for His might.
  • Everlastingever-lasting; lasts, doesn’t fade—eternal, endless, ceaseless, never-ending, perpetual, undying, unending; as opposed to temporary, short-lived, passing. His reign and supremacy isn’t temporary. It never becomes less, is never threatened, never wavers.
  • Peace—calm, quiet, stillness, tranquility, harmony, serenity; not chaotic or turbulent, no upheaval. In all situations, at all times He brings peace. He is ever in control of time and events.

There is no end to the increase, or greatness, of His government or its peace. There is never a disruption or lull; never a government coup. No one can usurp His power or overtake His position. His government ever grows and increases until the day comes when all things will be under His feet.

So, yes, a Savior was born in Bethlehem… and what a Savior He is–a wonderful Counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace of a Kingdom without end.